And I’m back! Finally!!!
I cannot believe that it has been almost four months since my last blog post!! It always surprises me how fast time flies whenever there are many stressful events happening—and boy, oh, boy, has this year been a doozy. If you read Desiree’s last blog post, you know that we produced and starred in a play, which was quite a bit more work than either of us were anticipating! I also had some intense family drama to deal with at the exact same time, which is always so hard, in addition to a huge job for a design client. I feel like I am just now able to come up for air! I am so happy to be back here, blogging—I realized how much I have really missed blogging and this community that we’ve developed.
Where do I start?! As I said, Desiree and I, along with a few of our friends, were able to finally get the play, Bachelorette, to the stage this year after trying, in vain, for the last three years! Funny story, Desiree and I actually met while in an acting class and we got to know one another while working on a scene from Bachelorette. We became fast friends through that process—laughing your asses off at crass jokes tends to do that for you—and eventually became business partners, which yielded this blog! (How’s that for an origin story? Thank you, Leslye Headland!) Ultimately, we were very inspired by the show and felt like producing it would be a great way to showcase our talent as actresses, and quite honestly, it bothered me that I never checked this off “my list” of accomplishments (one of my favorite pastimes)—and we were very successful with it, but I would be lying if I said that the process from making the decision to do it, to the closing of the show was easy. It really was not! I don’t think either of us were prepared for how much work had to be done to execute this idea. We all wore almost every hat that there is for a theatre production, from producing to marketing to managing, plus I had the entire set to design, install and execute. And all of that was in addition to acting in it!! This was a bit harder for me than I was expecting because I was also working my regular job as an interior designer and continuing to run my Etsy shops while producing the show. I knew when I agreed to do the play that it was not the best timing for me and I was going to struggle with the amount of juggling that would be required because the interior designer that I work with had a huge design client in Palm Springs scheduled for the same time, which requires travel as well, but I decided to jump in with both feet anyway. I was prepared to deal with all of the craziness that comes with being busy, but then, my mother, who lives in Arkansas, fell and broke both of her shoulders. Yes, you read that correctly. She fell off of a treadmill and broke BOTH of her shoulders. Talk about an awful situation, coupled with the worst timing possible.
To give you a little back story about my mother, two years ago, she was diagnosed with a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma and was give a 2% chance of survival. Because of the type of cancer, she had to have immediate surgery to remove the tumor and we were told that she, most likely, wouldn’t survive the surgery. You may recognize that type of cancer because of 29 year old Brittany Maynard, who moved to Oregon in late 2014 to peacefully end her life because the diagnosis with this cancer is so grim. However, my mother survived the surgery, endured a round of radiation and a year and a half of aggressive chemotherapy and with her stubborn will to live, is still with us, cancer free, two years later!
After battling through that disease, my mom seemed to have a new lease on life and was determined to make each day that she had left count. She was living independently, became excited about getting fit, wanted to be outside and became much more social. My brother and I were delighted to see her transformation! In fact, she had been bragging to me that she had worked up to an hour of walking and light jogging on the treadmill the day before she fell, on that same treadmill that caused her bi-lateral shoulder break. This was just an unfortunate case of bad luck coupled with clumsiness, but it really was quite the blow to her health and psyche. She had to go to rehab and was basically helpless, as she couldn’t move either of her arms. Needless to say, this made for a very cranky individual, with good reason, since she was in so much pain. She would call me and I found myself having to give her pep-talks and remind her to “mind her manners”, like she had told me so many times while growing up. It was a rather stark reminder that we all ultimately do end up parenting our parents—she really couldn’t do anything for herself and was acting out in ways that she would have never allowed me to do, had the tables been turned. It really is difficult to deal with aging parents, even when you believe yourself to be prepared for it.
Up to this point, my brother, who lived near my mother in Arkansas, had bore the brunt of this latest health ordeal, so once she had completed 80% of her rehabilitation, she was released and I needed to pitch in. She needed to transition back to living mostly independently, but still required 24 hour care, so it was decided that she would move in with her sister, who lives in Austin, Texas. So, I drove (yep, drove! It was a blast!) to Arkansas to help move her from her home and into her new place. This would include going through all of her belongings in her home and storage unit in order to downsize, cramming it into my Mini Cooper and then driving her to Austin and getting it all set up. Because of the size of this task, I had to take two weeks off from my life. Everything, from producing the play, dealing with my design client, my Etsy sites, writing my beloved closet series for this blog, basically my life came to a complete halt, so I could deal with my mother’s life and health crisis. The timing of this really could not have been worse, but she is my mom and I love her and I am also Southern and let me tell ya, Southern guilt is a real thing!! 🙂
When I saw my mother for the first time after this latest health debacle, I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes. My normally vibrant and outgoing mom, who had aged appropriately over the years, suddenly looked 15 years older than the last time I saw her not even a year before. If I’m being honest, it was actually terrifying because I thought that this might be the last time that I ever saw her. It felt like this might be it. Her shoulders were slumped over, she had to shuffle to walk and she couldn’t complete her thoughts—it was very surreal. She was very candid about her situation, at one point saying, “Raven, I have fought my whole life, but I don’t think that I can fight anymore.” My heart just sank. I tried to think of encouraging, positive things to say, but the only thing that I could think to say to her was the very thing that she has said to me on so many occasions growing up, which was “it’s time to put your big girl pants on”! Which was always her way of saying, life is tough, its not always fair, but you have to buck up and move through it. The look she gave me then, well, I could tell she was proud that she raised such a tough, headstrong woman, but she was a little pissed at my lack of sensitivity. Suddenly I had turned my mom’s “tough love”, back on her. It was a very interesting and odd circumstance to find myself in.
I managed to pack her and her belongings, my dogs and myself all in my tiny Mini Cooper and get back on the road for another eight hour road trip!! I did what I could to make it fun for us, but she was still in a lot of pain. We finally arrived in Austin, to my Aunt’s house, and I did my best to get her settled into her new life. That included having to get her situated with the VA in Austin, and as an aside, our current medical system in this country is so incredibly difficult. I am a relatively healthy person that requires a basic check-up once a year, so I had no idea why everyone was complaining so vehemently about our medical care, but now I do! What a headache!
The silver lining was, of course, getting to visit with family members that I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was so nice seeing my Aunt and Uncle, along with one of my cousins and her two children who I hadn’t yet met, in addition to my brother and his family. This really served as a reminder about what family really means. Even if they drive you crazy sometimes, it was very touching how everyone really rallied around my mother when she needed it most. I am so glad that my mom is staying with someone that loves her and is able to care for her—my Aunt is a retired nurse, so mom is in really great hands. It seems like they have been able to rekindle and deepen their relationship and I am so glad!
Suddenly it was time for me to drive back to California and get back to my own life. It is always so jarring to visit the place where I grew up and then head back to the place that I now call home—the differences are astounding. It was hard for me to leave my mother with all of these unanswered questions—would she be okay? Would she fight to improve? I didn’t know, at that time, and it was just so weird to feel that way while leaving. It is so easy to never consider that while we are all making a life for ourselves, our parents are growing older. This was definitely a reminder.
Upon my return to LA, I dove right back into the nuttiness. Pre-production for the show, client presentation requirements, meetings, Etsy site, everything else…except my beloved blog. I had to press the pause button on this because I just couldn’t keep up. I was actually really disappointed in myself, as I pride myself on my work ethic, and my ability to accomplish everything I make a commitment to. But I am happy to report that we completed the play, my design client is very happy with the progress that we’ve made with their project, which is nearing completion, my mother has done all of the hard work with physical and occupational therapy and is thriving. Everything is settling back to my preferred style of living! And I’m back to blogging, which is my favorite thing to do. I am finally going to wrap up my closet article, in addition to writing on a much more regular basis!!
Moral of this story? When it rains, it LITERALLY pours. #truth!! I grabbed an umbrella and faced the storm head on. On the other side of all of it, I have really learned a lot the past four months—I am even more capable than I believed myself to be. Actually, I had gotten so used to operating over and above my normal capacity that once the show ended, I started having withdrawals!! This was a surprise to me, but it also serves as a reminder to appreciate things more in the moment, rather than consider things that I am doing as stress. Sometimes having too much to do can be fun! However, I also learned that it is okay to not be perfect. I couldn’t do everything all at once, and it seemed to work out just fine. I do appreciate your patience with us and I am beyond excited to share my ‘designed life’ with you again!!
“All’s well that ends well”
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